On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th president of the United States of America. The world will be worse.
So let’s spend the night before making it just a bit better.
Welcome to the Neighborhood, the ad hoc literary reading series in which I take credit for Rachel Hyman’s ideas, is coming back with a fundraiser benefiting Chicago-based charities that will be hurt under Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.
The night — tentatively set for Jan. 19, the night before the inauguration — will have different readers telling true stories that culminate in positive, concrete calls to action to benefit local nonprofits.
The readings aren’t going to be about safety pins and how Trump makes us feel. The night is entirely about getting dollars in the coffers of groups that are going to have a devastating four years. LGBTQ charities, women’s health initiatives, organizations working for immigrants, for free speech, for access to justice, for civil rights, against climate change — any local group working in issues the new administration has targeted is fair game.
Right now the plan is for readers to pick local charities and audience members vote with poker chips for how we divvy the night’s take.
It’s absolutely fine, even preferable, if you work for or are connected with the group you pitch to the crowd. Tell the personal stories that illustrate why these groups are so important.
No storytelling experience? No problem. We’ll workshop your stories with you well before the event to get you comfortable and ready to share with the world.
Here are some examples of the type of stories we want, although your submissions will determine the particular charities involved:
- Lessons learned from being a Planned Parenthood of Illinois volunteer escort and why others should participate.
- How Center on Halsted saved your life.
- Why LVEJO fights climate change in communities of color.
- When you first realized the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights could help your family.
What we don’t want:
- Explanations of why Trump’s policies are dangerous. (We know.)
- Calls to rally/protest. (You should be doing that anyway.)
- Calls for gestures of solidarity. (Safety pins and declarations of allegiance are indicators you’re ready to start the work. We want the work.)
- Standup sets about our Cheeto goblin shriveled-tangerine-stuffe
d-in-a-moldy-tangerine hairpiece overlord. (We know.)
We don’t have a venue lined up yet (hint hint for any readers with access to a swank bar with a stage), but Rachel and I want to get the submissions rolling in while we plan.
Send your 900-1,200 word story (no longer than 10 minutes) and the charity you want to collect donations for to firstname.lastname@example.org (questions go there too) no later than midnight Dec. 23, 2016.
No one I know has much rah, rah or sis boom bah after this election. We’re tired, hurting and just a bit broken.
And that’s exactly where the next president wants us to be.
So let’s turn our anger into positive action. Let’s get out there and help these groups survive a presidency that has targeted them. For the love of hell, stand up on your own two feet and let’s get something done.
Tell your friends and share the Facebook event we set up for submissions.